Skip to main content

Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

See other formats

over this question of the numerical strength of the Polish troops came
during the first days of December when Sikorski arrived in Russia via
Africa and Teheran, accompanied by his Chief-of- Staff, General
Klimecki,' and the British Liaison Officer, Major V. Cazalet. On his
arrival, there was an e open * talk between Stalin and Sikorski, who was
anxious to unite all the Polish forces in Persia, 'and to include the Car-
pathian Brigade which had fought in Africa and had been besieged in
Tobruk. It became evident to Sikorski that conditions did not exist in
Russia for the formation of such an army, and he proposed to Stalin that
seven divisions should be formed and transferred to Persia, where they
could be equipped by the British and return to the Russian front in due
course. In addition, he wanted to transfer some 25,000 men to Britain
with a view to augmenting the forces stationed there.
Stalin reacted angrily to both these proposals. " I am an old man,
sixty-two years of age. I know that where an army is formed, there that
army should remain. If Poles don't wish to fight let them say so. If
they want to goólet them go. We can't keep them." Sikorski, offended
by the insinuation that the Poles did not want to fight, denied this allegation
and retorted to Stalin : " Improve the existing conditions which surround
the Poles and they would be able to fight." But Stalin remarked brus-
quely : " The British need the Polish troopsówe can do without you.
We shall re-conquer Poland ourselves and give it back to you."
Sikorski pointed out to Stalin that under the existing circumstances, the
lack of proper food and medicine, with typhus raging, and no equipment,
it was impossible to form even one Army Corps. Stalin acknowledged
that the conditions for his troops were more favourable, but they were
" supplying what they could to the Poles." He had received Churchill's
request regarding the transfer of the Poles to the British Zone, and he
agreed to allow three divisions to go. In the meantime, he said, " orders
would be given to find quarters for the remaining divisions."
The Polish Premier and Commander-in-Chief, made it clear that he
was responsible for urging the British authorities to have the Poles trans-
ferred to Persia, in order that he might obtain equipment for them, but he
was prepared to fight on the Russian front when this had been done.
Stalin seemed to be convinced by Sikorski's sincerity, and feeling he was
perhaps competing with the British for the Polish Army, appeared to
regret his former charge.
Therefore, in December, both Stalin and Sikorski agreed that the
conditions for the formation of a Polish Army in Russia,, on the latter's
supplies alone, were impracticable. The Soviets, however, would e give
what they could,' but the Poles must trek southwards to Turkestan,
nearer to the British supply bases through Persia. The Army was to
consist of six divisions, each containing 11,000 men, with 30,000 reserve,
i.e., 96,000 in all. Furthermore, they agreed that 25,000 men should be
sent to the Middle East as reinforcements for the Polish forces then